The very first time I sat in a Mumbai local I was struck by the darkness inside it, a sharp contrast with the bright light of day streaming in through the thick grill of the window.
The smells, the sights and sounds were all strange to the fifteen-year-old me who was making her way across the city for the first time, to what I thought was the college of my dreams.
I thought I was alone in making this journey but when I got off at Marine Lines, my father tapped me on the shoulder- he had made the journey with me, in the gents compartment to see if I managed alright and got off at the right stop!
Over the course of my years in the city, the Mumbai local became familiar territory- the colour, the familiar and unfamiliar tongues in jest, the anger, the despair, the friendly smiles, the fish-fights, the sheer anarchy- all of it is engraved onto the story of my life.
And in time the local became a backdrop for many of the biggest events in my life. When my heart skipped a beat and I smiled at a memory, someone on a train witnessed it.
When my heart broke to loved ones lost- to death, to break-ups, to burnt out friendships, the Mumbai local swallowed me whole, wrapped me in its soothing anonymity and spat me out to face the world with my head up again.
As it was then, it is today. I walk into an empty compartment, pick a seat by the window, and as always, I am home again.